Warmer weather means its time to do some science experiments outside! Kids will love making a soda bottle rocket with simple household materials. This fun science demonstration is easy to do and will definitely impress your kids. Our rocket flew higher than our two story house!

EPIC Soda Bottle Rocket!

This post was originally published in April 2016 and was updated March 2019.

This is a fun outdoor science project for kids of all ages. Use a simple baking soda and vinegar reaction to launch your rocket. Who knew that baking soda and vinegar had that much power?

At the bottom of this post, I have an explanation of the science behind it.

Want to see our bottle rocket in flight? Here’s a video demonstration!

Here is what you need to make one:

  • A 2 liter soda bottle
  • 3 pencils (unsharpened is best)
  • Duct tape
  • A cork that fits the soda bottle
  • Paper towels
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar – we went through an entire large bottle, so get a lot!

First, prepare your rocket. Basically, all we did was to build a stand for the rocket. We were concerned that adding decorations would make the rocket heavier, which would not allow it to go as high.

Epic Bottle Rocket

We went to a birthday party a couple weeks ago and made a bottle rocket with a water bottle. They used pencils as “feet” for the rocket to stand on, and I thought it was a brilliant idea!

EPIC Bottle Rocket!

Once your rocket is ready, it’s time to launch!

I failed to get a good photo of our baking soda packets, but what you need is a small square of paper towel (we used half of a select-a-size paper towel). Dump in some baking soda (we didn’t measure) and fold the paper towel around it. It needs to be narrow enough to fit through the mouth of your bottle. You can kind of see our baking soda packet in the photo below.

Pour in some vinegar. We used about two inches worth, but again we didn’t measure.

(Turn this into a science experiment by using different quantities of baking soda and vinegar and recording how high your rocket goes!)

EPIC Bottle Rocket!

After pouring in the vinegar, quickly push in the baking soda packet and then push in the cork. Turn the bottle over and wait for it to launch! It can take up to 30 seconds.

Be careful of pushing in the cork too tightly – our first rocket did not launch because of that, and when we pulled the cork out it had a LOT of pressure behind it. Once Aidan got the hang of how tightly to push it in, our launches were all successful after that.

EPIC Bottle Rocket!

Be sure to stand back… It’s starting to foam!

EPIC Bottle Rocket!

LIFTOFF! What a great demonstration of Newton’s 3rd law of motion!

EPIC Bottle Rocket

The Science Behind It:

The baking soda and vinegar that we used in this bottle rocket create an acid/base reaction. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, and the chemical formula is NaHCO3. Vinegar, or acetic acid, is HCH3COO. A baking soda and vinegar reaction is actually two parts. It happens so fast that we don’t realize that it’s actually two reactions. First, carbonic acid is formed. This quickly breaks down into water and carbon dioxide gas. The other product of the reaction is sodium acetate, which you can use to make Hot Ice. All the CO2 gas that is formed by the reaction creates pressure inside the bottle. The pressure builds up until it pushes the cork out of the opening of the bottle. Then WHOOOOSH! We have liftoff!

The rocket flies high because of Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion, which states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The CO2 gas and liquid push out of the bottom of the rocket, which pushes the rocket upwards with great force!

It’s a great time of year to get outside! Here are more fun backyard projects:

  • Here are several fun Backyard Projects from One Crazy House. Love these ideas for creating a fun play space!

EPIC Bottle Rocket! This rocket flew higher than our two story house!

16 Comments

Post a Comment
  1. Amanda Jun 4, 2016

    Can I ask why you didn't just pour the baking soda in the bottle?

    Reply
    1. Cindy Taylor Jul 13, 2016

      You don't want the reaction to start immediately. You need to have time to put the cork in, stand up the rocket and get back before it starts.

      Reply
      1. breanna Dec 13, 2018

        how high did you get the rocket to go?

        Reply
      2. Erick Jun 3, 2019

        Amanda,
        The baking soda would react with the vinegar so fast that you would not have time to add the Cork and set the rocket.
        The paper towel was to slow down the reaction time.

        Reply
      3. Tera Thompson Jul 24, 2016

        Where can I find a cork?

        Reply
        1. chris Feb 12, 2018

          wine bottle

          Reply
        2. Lana Aug 27, 2016

          So much FUN!!! Four successful launches - now we are heading out to get more vinegar.

          He loved watching the video - that really got his attention.
          Thank you for sharing such fun ideas for my little man and me to try.

          Reply
          1. Terry Mar 18, 2017

            It's inspire me to do this project with my class. Tq...

            Reply
            1. Kim Godfrey May 8, 2017

              Where do you find a cork that fits a water bottle?

              Reply
              1. Ayla Jul 12, 2017

                Didn't see any comments on the size for the cork... I used a size 10 cork from hobby lobby for this project.

                Reply
                1. Jenn Jun 2, 2019

                  You're the MVP of this post. We don't drink wine or know anyone who does. Thank you for suggesting HL. I had NO idea I could get a cork there. Worked like a charm!

                  Reply
                2. Sue Jul 16, 2017

                  Tried this today with my Grandchildren first one the Cork wasn't tight enough 2nd one leaked slightly so only managed about 4 foot off the ground but our 3rd attempt was brilliant about 10ft high then it hit the house and whirled around so much fun and laughter thanks for the idea

                  Reply
                  1. paul Sep 29, 2017

                    we tried this and it went 2 centimeters in the air

                    Reply
                    1. Steve Sheldon Mar 6, 2018

                      You can't put too much liquid in or it will be too heavy to fly. About 1/4 to 1/3 full works best. (Science teacher here.)

                      Reply
                  2. Melissa Jun 24, 2018

                    Is there anything that can be used besides a cork?

                    Reply
                    1. dj Aug 24, 2018

                      thank you for helping me find my science project
                      thank you very much

                      Reply
                      1. Grandma DD Nov 5, 2018

                        Will a 1.5 liter bottle work? Off to the store to buy a BIG bottle of vinegar.

                        Reply
                        1. Sarah Nov 6, 2018

                          Yes, that should work! You may need to adjust your amounts, but the concept is the same.

                          Reply
                          1. Tanya Jul 30, 2019

                            We found the 2 litre bottles more fun but the small water bottles worked well too.

                            Reply
                          2. jack Mar 28, 2019

                            i only have 19$

                            Reply
                            1. Bob Nolan Apr 20, 2019

                              I wanted to put you the little remark to help say thank you over again on the awesome methods you've provided in this article. It was so tremendously generous with you to provide unhampered precisely what a lot of folks could have made available for an e book to help with making some profit for themselves, certainly given that you might have done it in the event you decided. The advice additionally acted as a great way to be sure that some people have the identical fervor really like my own to find out a good deal more with respect to this problem. Certainly there are numerous more fun instances up front for folks who browse through your website.

                              Reply
                              1. Marie Loveless May 28, 2019

                                Great post. My boys will love this.

                                Reply
                                1. Jenn Jun 2, 2019

                                  Thank you SO much for this post!! We're having a rocket themed birthday party for my son and were looking for a few fun activities to include. The post was perfectly informative and we had mild success on our first launch and perfect success on our second. Thank you so much for taking the time to provide the info for others to replicate. As mentioned by "Ayla" above, the size 10 cork from Hobby Lobby works perfectly for the 2 liter bottle.

                                  Reply
                                  1. Zenande Oct 17, 2019

                                    Love the experiment you inspired my whole science club now we doing the project too thanks so much

                                    Reply
                                    1. Meghan Souza Nov 14, 2019

                                      Has anyone measured the amount of baking soda and vinegar to use? Looking for exact measurements for the lab directions.

                                      Reply

                                      Post a Comment